Ferguson's Cove Dive Site
HRM, Nova Scotia / Latitude: 44° 36.184' N Longitude: 63° 33.433' W
Certification Level: Novice
Ferguson's Cove is a relatively well-known dive site in Nova Scotia, with a relatively easy to moderate rocky beach entry. There are also places near this dive site, such as the pilings at Ferguson’s Cove, where you can also dive and see more of the area. You will have to park on the side of the road once you get there. Be sure to be respectful of the area, avoid parking/wandering on private property, and just remember to be respectful towards the people who allow us divers to dive there. There is lots of different sea plant life as well as crabs, lobster, small ﬁsh such as Red Hake, Cunner, Pollock, Longﬁn Hake, Sculpin and Sea Ravens. This is a good place to practice navigation and buoyancy control. This is a shallow site and it’s max depth varies depending on which particular spot you choose, but it’s average of 30-50ft in the most commonly used areas. This area is recommended for divers with at least an open-water qualiﬁcation.
The main Ferguson's Cove dive site is relatively easy for entry. It’s recommended that you fully kit up prior to leaving your vehicle to make things easier though. The entry point is shown at the ﬁrst picture in the set of three mentioned above. However if you choose the lesser known area by the pilings at Ferguson’s Cove the entry is a steeper and more rocky entry, and is recommended for more experienced divers due to the possibility of rolling an ankle or falling when navigating around the rocks and crevasses leading to the ocean.
Navigating the dive:
Once you’re past the entry, and you’re ready to dive, you can dive the immediate area, or you can swim in the opposite direction of the breakwater along the shoreline towards the pilings.
Near the main entry point, it’s fairly sheltered from westerly winds and therefore the surge usually isn’t too severe depending on the wind speed. Once you move towards the pilings it becomes less sheltered and the surge can be moderate to sever depending on the winds. Remember to always check conditions, and update your dive plan accordingly.
The bottom consists of mainly small rocks, sand, and scattered areas of sea plants. As you move further down the shoreline towards the pilings you will see remnants of the pilings, and a mixture of man-made ﬁxtures and small rocks. The further you dive away from the shoreline the rocky bottom turns more to sand and kelp and then to silt. There have been old bottles, and other relics found in the area as well.
When you’re within 20-50m from the shoreline the depth ranges from 30-50 feet, if you stick to the shoreline towards the pilings, the depth is average from 5 to 10 feet at the base of the pilings.
The visibility will be determined on the conditions that day, and the conditions of the days prior to the dive. For instance if there has been heavy rain prior to your dive, the visibility will be signiﬁcantly reduced (less than one metre) due to run off. However, if the conditions are good the visibility will be slightly below average (around 3-10 metres).
A few things to remember about the area, such as if you use other entry/exit points you should always use caution when traversing over potentially slippery rocks and sea plants. Also you should be aware that there may be some over head boat trafﬁc, and that the conditions can change quite rapidly depending on the weather. If you proceed towards the pilings, it becomes more exposed and therefore you should always remain vigilant of the surrounding conditions and the fallen pilings, and other man made objects that are in that area.
Always remember to familiarize yourself with your plan and your dive procedures prior to diving. Emergency contacts to note (but are not limited to) are:
1) Calling 911. Notify the operator that you’re diving off Ferguson’s Cove Road near SeaWatch B&B (use speciﬁc directions or latitude and longitude if necessary).
2) Herring Cove & District Fire Department: 57 Ketch Harbour Road. (902) 477-1494.
3) Recompression Chamber: Dickson Building, Victoria General Hospital. (902) 473-7998
4) Joint Rescue & Coordination Centre Halifax (JRCC): (902) 427-8200
5) Divers Alert Network (International Emergency Hotline): (902) 919-684 ext. 9111
6) Marine VHF: Channel 16
Some emergency procedures to familiarize yourself with prior to the dive are (but are not limited to):
1) Low/out of air situations: even in areas where the depth isn’t signiﬁcantly deep, it’s good to refresh these procedures with your dive partners. Remember to signal if possible, and ascend to the surface at a safe rate, being sure to look up and avoid any possible overhead obstructions such as boats. When on the surface, inﬂate your BCD, signal to others that you’re ok, and surface swim back to the entry/exit point.
2) Lost buddy diver: due to the below average visibility of the area, this is always a possibility. If you happen to get separated from your buddy, do a quick search of the immediate area and try and locate him/her. If you do not ﬁnd your buddy, complete an ascent as mentioned above, and once on the surface inﬂate your BCD and search for them (or their bubbles) in your surrounding area. If you cannot safely ﬁnd your buddy, return to the entry/exit point, and notify your emergency contacts immediately.
3) Injured diver: if you or your buddy happens to sustain an injury while diving, ascend as mentioned above, inﬂate your BCD, notify anyone on the surface in the immediate area if possible, and then proceed to the entry/exit point. Once there, contact emergency assistance immediately.
4) Near drowning, lung injury, or DCS: Once on the surface and you or your buddy are showing signs of DCS or have endured a near drowning incident, be sure to return to the entry/exit point as quickly as safely possible. If unconscious, provide rescue breaths and CPR if necessary. Notify anyone in the immediate area of the situation and get them to contact emergency assistance immediately.
Remember, diving is a fun and exciting activity, but safety is always paramount. Preparation is key to identifying, and avoiding potential dangers. Always familiarize yourself and your dive buddies of the area, and of the dive plan and procedures in case of an emergency. Although diving accidents can be signiﬁcantly prevented with good communication, safety equipment, and preparation, it’s always best to be accompanied with someone who is familiar with the area and the conditions. Once all precautions are taken, go out and have a fun and safe dive